URGENT ALERT: Arrest of Dr. Maria Natividad “Naty” Castro

At 9:30 a.m. today, February 18, 2022, Dr. Ma. Natividad Marian Castro was arrested by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines allegedly based on an arrest warrant on trumped up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in Caraga. The cops forcibly entered the Castro family home in San Juan City.

Dr. Naty is a known human rights and health worker in Mindanao, where she helped set up community centers and programs and trained many human rights workers for several years. She had led several fact-finding missions and assisted victims of human rights violations in the region. She was a National Council member of Karapatan and the secretary general of Karapatan - Caraga.

She is a distinguished alumna of St. Scholastica High School in Manila and the UP College of Medicine.

In March 2016, Dr. Naty joined a delegation of human rights defenders in Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the UN Human Rights Council sessions. She joined Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay and Michelle Campos, daughter of slain Lumad leader Dionel Campos, in meetings with UN Special Procedures, diplomatic missions, international NGOs and solidarity groups based in Switzerland. In these meetings, Dr. Naty passionately discussed the plight of Lumad communities in Caraga and the whole of Mindanao.

From San Juan City, Dr. Naty was reportedly brought to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center and to the PNP Intelligence Group Building inside Camp Crame. When Karapatan National Office’s team inquired with the said office, we were told that Dr. Naty is being brought to the airport to be flown to where her cases are pending.

We call on the PNP to respect the rights of Dr. Naty with regards to access to her family, lawyers, doctors and paralegals, against interrogation without the presence of her counsel of choice, and access to her medicines (she has hypertension and diabetes), among others.

Karapatan denounces the arrest of human rights and health worker Dr. Naty Castro as yet another form of attack against human rights defenders. This despicable policy and practice of the Duterte regime of filing trumped up charges against rights defenders in an attempt to silence them should stop.

Release Dr. Naty Castro! Drop the trumped-up charges against her and all human rights defenders!